Filmmakers work on a project for months or years, but there's really no way to predict how it will land on audiences ... until it does. Our documentary The House That Rob Built landed last month in front of the hometown folks -- who, while most inclined to be interested, could also be its harshest critics.
But, that was not the case. They loved The House that Rob Built, and potential viewers from small towns across Montana have reached out for screenings.
So, we're all breathing a sigh of relief at the reception that greeted our story about legendary longtime Coach Rob Selvig and his Lady Griz team of women basketball players -- recruited largely from ranches, Native American reservations and small towns -- at the University of Montana.
From a program with limited resources and interest, Selvig and his players built the Lady Griz, an NCAA Division I team, into a powerhouse.
THTRB (as we call it) premiered on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the historic Wilma Theatre in Missoula, Montana, as part of the 17th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. The festival premiere sold out the week before, as did a second showing the following Sunday. At the festival's request, a third screening was arranged.
Part of the film's success with this audience could lie with its producer and co-director, FTP staffer Megan Harrington. A native of Missoula, she played for the Lady Griz under Selvig -- who retired in 2016 after a 38-year run -- and her passion for the project shone through.
Here's a look at what the premiere night was like for Selvig, Harrington and co-director and editor Jonathan Cipiti (who teamed with Harrington for FTP's The Dating Project and our upcoming PRAY: The Story of Patrick Peyton):
We're also grateful for the press the film received. Harrington and Selvig did several radio and TV interviews, and local publications did stories. Here's a sampling:
There's a new documentary out about Selvig and his program that puts to shame a lot of these morbid movies pushed at us today. Not only is the "The House That Rob Built" an inspirational journey through the past, it's a pretty good parental road map for the future.
If you ever cared about Treasure State sports, you'll enjoy this. You might bask in the heartwarming glow or laugh as Selvig laughs at himself. You'll marvel at the uncanny bond the players and coaches still share.
Urgent Memo for Expectant Sports Dads -- You Need to See This Montana Grizzly Movie, by Bill Speltz, The Missoulian
On top of him being one of the most prolific sports names in Montana history, the documentary may have Selvig’s name in the title, but the film isn’t just about him. It’s about the staff, fans and players that supported his push toward furthering women’s sports and giving small-town Montana girls a chance to prove they belonged.
Robin Selvig's Legacy Takes to the Big Screen at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Jack Ginsburg, MontanaSports.com
The women paint a picture of a man who took the reins of the Lady Griz at a time when women weren’t seen as serious athletes and, through passion and grit, inspired generations of players and fans by raising the team to national prominence.
'The House That Rob Built': A Love Letter to Longtime Lady Griz Coach, Laura Scheer, The Missoulian
The Missoulian also reported that the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival set a new record for attendance, with executive director Rachel Gregg announcing a total audience increase of 17.7%. Our film was one of 31 out of 105 screenings that sold out (but deserved special recognition for having to add a third screening).
Selvig and Shannon Cate Schweyen, one of his former star players and assistant coaches -- and who's now head coach of the Lady Griz -- are in the inaugural class of inductees to the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame.
Image: Family Theater Productions, Windrider Productions